St Thomas, Nevada, Mormon Selttlement !
Bob and Brian Exploring
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S t Thomas, Nevada, Mormon Settlement!

OK, If you read my trip you know that we had a few minor problems on our St Thomas trip. After all was said and done I have only a few photos. So until we get back this fall I will use this profile as my St Thomas page!

Also see St. Thomas Time Line of Events!

W ith instructions from Brigham Young, St Thomas was plotted in 1864 to be a Mormon Settlement. The townsite was built for the purpose of commerce and supply's, figuring that emigration would soon move toward the town having navigable waters of the Colorado river at hand. The intentions of the Mormon settlement was to be a direct connection to Salt Lake City, this made St Thomas one of the more important settlements of those to follow over the next four years.

For more photos of the last trip!

T he townsite had seventy-five families from northern Utah under the leadership of Thomas Smith. The town was situated at an altitude of 800 feet above see level at the mouth of a mountain gorge near the Muddy River, surrounded by dry sandstone hills. By 1867 inhabitants totaled 500 which was to be its peak Of greatest prosperity. The streets and irrigation ditches were to be covered by some 20,000 cottonwood trees.

S urrounding towns would soon be Overton, some seven miles northwest of St Thomas, St Joseph is eleven miles northwest, Junctionville is twenty-five miles southward, and thirty-five miles to the northwest is Bunkerville.

B y July of 1866 the town obtained its Post Office, which was thought to be in Utah Territory. The following year Arizona Territory named St Thomas as its county seat for Pah-ute County. The Mormons at this time made no attempt to create a government, because of close ties to Utah and not with Nevada or Arizona. The Nevada boundary survey of 1870, showed that the townsite was in Nevada and demanded two years previous back taxes. The Mormons refusing to pay back or current taxes and by order of Brigham Young retreated out of Muddy Valley back to Utah in the winter of 1870-71. On February 20th the last of the Mormons were out and the sheriff of Hiko was posting Tax notices on several hundred houses.

T he only residents left to St Thomas was the Daniel Bonelli family, having a son born the last day the Mormons left, Benjamin Franklin Bonelli, and later to establish the ferry at the junction of the Virgin and Colorado and keeping close ties to his interest in St Thomas. Bonelli took over the operation of postmaster and lodging facilities for passing travelers. He was buried on a low mesa overlooking the ferry and then later moved by reclamation officials for Boulder Dam to Kingman, Arizona and laid beside his wife.

B y 1880 the Mormons started to drift back to St Thomas and the town grew to several hundred again. Ed Martin and Bob Logan owned just about all of what is now Logandale. At Overton, were the families of Crosbys, Coxes, Whitmores, Joneses and the Perkins. In St Thomas came the Jennings, Gentrys, Ed Syphus, and soon to follow Martin A. Bunker. A mercantile company by the name of Wooley, Lund and Judd bought up the fields south and east of town.

T he Union Pacific railroad built a branch down the valley and used St Thomas as a terminus, between 1910 and 1918 it was a busy frontier town. Then during the First World War the price of copper rose and with thousands of head of stock being freighted from St Thomas to Grand Gulch mine things really got lively. It was at this same time that the Arrowhead Trail was built through the Valley of Fire to St Thomas, which caused the tourist business to grow for the Gentry Hotel.

T he building of the Boulder Dam in the mid 30's would cause life to end in this little frontier town. The town residents would soon move to Overton and surrounding towns. Leland Whitmore was to be the last postmaster of St Thomas, being told by the government to abandon the office on June 16th and move to a railroad siding some four miles up the Valley. Washington had no control of the river or the water that backed up from it, so on June 10th with water knocking on the front door the Post Office was Officially shut down.

S t Thomas was covered with the waters of Lake Mead, not to been seen again till the drought in the late 50's. As the drought ended, St Thomas was once again submerged in the depths of Lake Mead not to arise until 2002 when again the valley is in need of water. Some fifty years now it has been buried, and I suppose as it will, when this drought is over it will be gone Again. But NOT until I get BACK to take more pictures.

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